May 09, 2019

Restaurants are filling all rungs on the career ladder

The restaurant industry has long been the primary training ground for new entrants to the workforce. In fact, approximately one-third of all U.S. adults say their first job experience was in the restaurant and foodservice industry, according to Association research.

This trend was on full display in 2018, with restaurant operators reporting that roughly one in four of their job openings were filled by people for whom this was the first regular job that they have ever had. 

The limited-service segment was the most likely to hire new workers, with 31 percent of quickservice openings and 25 percent of fast-casual job openings going to people getting their first work experience. Roughly one in five jobs in the family-dining and casual-dining segments went to first-time workers in 2018, while 13 percent of openings in the fine-dining segment were filled by new entrants to the workforce.

In addition to providing job opportunities for new entrants to the workforce, many jobs are also filled by people advancing from other positions within a restaurant. As employees receive the on-the-job training and become more knowledgeable about the operation, they are often the ideal candidates for more senior positions in the restaurant.

In 2018, nearly one in four job openings in the quickservice segment were filled by people who were promoted from other jobs within the same restaurant business. In the tableservice and fast casual segments, roughly one in five jobs were filled through promotions.

In total, roughly one-half of limited-service restaurant job openings in 2018 were filled by either new entrants to the workforce or people being promoted from other positions within the same restaurant.

Read more analysis and commentary from the Association's chief economist.